- The Stormers are not underestimating the Pumas ahead of their Super Rugby Unlocked encounter in Nelspruit.
- The Cape side's coach John Dobson says the Pumas have "a good kicking game" and boast the ability "to strike from wide".
- Stormers skipper Siya Kolisi expects the Pumas to be "well prepared" under the coaching tutelage of Jimmy Stonehouse.
Stormers coach John Dobson is wary of the all-round threats posed by the Pumas ahead of Friday's Super Rugby Unlocked encounter at Mbombela Stadium.
Dobson, along with skipper Siya Kolisi, addressed reporters in a virtual media briefing from Nelspruit on Thursday evening after naming their team earlier in the afternoon.
Dobson made three changes to the team that beat the Lions 23-17 at Newlands last week, with loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff and hooker Scarra Ntubeni withdrawn after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for Covid-19.
Promising young gun Leon Lyons replaces Kitshoff in the starting XV, while Chad Solomon comes in on the bench for Ntubeni.
Edwill van der Merwe starts at right wing in place of Sergeal Petersen, who suffered a quad injury against the Lions, while Chris van Zyl starts in the second row in a rotational switch with JD Schickerling.
Dobson resisted wholesale changes as he warned of the threats posed by counterpart Jimmy Stonehouse's charges.
"We've been up here a few times... we lost here in 2017 with the Currie Cup team. They'll have massive energy from last week when they were really good," Dobson said.
The Stormers mentor was particularly impressed by Pumas flyhalf Eddie Fouche, who was the man-of-the-match in their 27-21 win over Griquas in Kimberley last weekend.
"They've got a really good kicking game, Fouche controls the game really well. Fouche is their driver, their whole game revolves around [him]... the way he kicks, the way he keeps them moving forward. He's a really good game driver."
But Dobson warned that the Pumas weren't a one-dimensional outfit and also singled out winger Neil Maritz and centre Wayne van der Bank as potential threats.
"I'm really excited by the likes of Maritz on the wing, Van der Bank the centre - they're two really exciting guys. We know (fullback) Devon Williams really well because he played for the Stormers.
"On a fast field like that they have the ability to strike from wide. They, along with the Cheetahs, are probably the two best competing teams in the lineouts (in the competition)," Dobson added.
Dobson also expected a physical onslaught up front from the Pumas, given they're a team coached by the vastly experienced Stonehouse.
"I've been playing against Jimmy for a while... he brings what he looks like... a bit of physicality," Dobson quipped.
Kolisi, who made his Test debut against Scotland at Mbombela Stadium in 2013, said he was looking forward to playing at the ground again.
"My first Test for the Springboks was probably the only time I've played here. But I'm really excited to be here today," Kolisi said.
The Bok skipper, though, stressed the importance of improving on their stuttering win over the Lions.
"It felt bad in the changeroom last week... it was very quiet because we know it wasn't even close to the standards we set for ourselves. And we want to make sure we improve (against the Pumas).
"We take every single game seriously and as [their] coach Jimmy Stonehouse said 'they're ready for us', so they're well prepared. We're looking forward to a tight battle this weekend."
Of the changes to the starting XV, Dobson was particularly excited about seeing 21-year-old Lyons stepping into Kitshoff's shoes.
"Leon Lyons was going to start this game anyway. He's a player we're really excited about, he's come through our junior ranks. He's really strong, a big loosehead very much in the Kitsie mould.
"He looks like a classic loosehead... but thighs, big chest... he did really well for our under-21s. He wasn't available for the first half [of the season] before lockdown because of injury. He's good ball carrier and a really good scrumming loosehead.
"Obviously to lose two Springboks, Kitsie and Scarra, is significant but luckily Chad Solomon has got 12 or 13 Super Rugby caps and Leon is certainly our loosehead of the future, so out of adversity comes opportunity for these guys."
Friday's clash kicks off at 19:00.
15 Devon Williams, 14 Neil Maritz, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Eddie Fouche, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsberg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Morgan Naude
Substitutes: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Heath Backhouse, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Dian Badenhorst, 21 Niel Marais, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Ig Prinsloo
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Leon Lyons
Substitutes (from): 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Jaco Coetzee, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Michal Haznar, 24 Tim Swiel, 25 Tristan Leyds